Let me open with a confession:
Before this book, I had never really read erotica. Sure, I’d stumbled across the odd racy bit of fanfiction in my youth, dabbled but decided it wasn’t really my thing, I guess I was more of a ‘visual’ person. I’ll admit the overwhelming popularity of the Fifty Shades Trilogy did pique my interest a little, but after sampling a couple of pages of bad, BAD writing and witnessing the uproar among some of my more BDSM fanatical friends regarding what an inaccurate, unsafe representation of a D/s relationship it portrayed, just put me off further (I know, really closed minded of me, I’m sorry). However, when the lovely Eva from Cleis Press emailed asking if I would like to review for them, I thought ‘what the hell, let’s give it a chance!’ and the rest, as they say, is history!
When I picked up ‘Never Say Never’ I was expecting something of a standard book of sex tips aimed at couples in long term monogamous relationships but oh, it is so much more than that… Sure, it offers up some ‘tips and tricks’ as you’d expect from your average sex help guide, but through the use of erotic fiction it puts this advice into context – with sizzling results!
The book opens with an intro from author/editor Alison Tyler, introducing herself as your ‘dirty tour guide’ through the realms of kink covered throughout the pages. In each chapter, Tyler introduces a specific kink, sex act or fantasy element through her own (quite personal at times) commentary, blending in related sexy snippets from other erotic stories which really whet one’s appetite for the full piece of hot fiction to follow. Each chapter also concludes with a few ‘tantalizing tips’ to help set your fantasies in motion. Topics range from things that are quite standard in my relationship like oral sex, light bondage and spanking to acts that I’d consider a little more hardcore such as anal, pegging and threesomes (I’ll let you guess which of those we haven’t done… yet!)
I really like Tyler’s casual, conversational style of writing as it makes for easy reading and is fun and unintimidating; a bit like having a chat and a laugh over coffee with a kinky friend. I think this makes the book really accessible to people who are quite new to reading erotica like myself or new to some of the kinks introduced in it. I enjoyed the story snippets in particular, some of which were so hot, the full piece of fiction that followed paled in comparison – I will definitely be looking up the authors and hunting down the complete texts of some of them!
As with all anthologies, I found the erotic fiction sections of the book to be a mixed bag, but that’s always going to be the case especially with one that covers such a broad range of topics! All of the stories are well-written and I enjoyed them all in their own rights, but there are a few that I had to stop reading to ‘take care of business’ and I keep finding myself returning to.
‘Bring Me the Dark’ by Angell Brooks, which complements the chapter on exhibitionism, involves a couple visiting a ‘blind restaurant’ (a restaurant where you’re sat eating in the pitch black and served by blind waitstaff) and basically having sex while surrounded by other diners – I’m so in love with this concept! I found Thomas S. Roche’s ‘Margarita Magic’, which is about a threesome between a married couple and a female friend, to be just the perfect level of raunchy and explicit – sometimes I find overly explicit scenes to be kind of cringey, but this one is just exceptionally scorching hot all the way through. It also reminds me a little of an encounter I had in my current relationship, in fact I must get my partner to give this one a read, it’s totally his thing! I also really enjoyed ‘Beneath the Surface’ by Summer Marsden which accompanies the spanking chapter (spontaneous kitchen sex, oh my!) and ‘The Final Frontier’ by Justine Elyot which describes the build up to the female partner’s first time receiving anal sex. I could really relate to her and when I finished reading I was definitely left wanting ‘more’…
The book is designed to advise and inspire long term monogamous couples who may be stuck in a sexual rut or looking to introduce a something new. I think ‘Never Say Never’ is a great way to do that in the way that it introduces a concept and then demonstrates through the erotic fiction how a couple might possibly work it into their own sex life. As part of what I would deem an ‘adventurous’ couple that has been going for five and a half years now, there weren’t a lot of things in the book we haven’t tried already so I didn’t find it all that inspiring (not that that affected my enjoyment of the book one bit), but I do think it would be a helpful and fun way for a more vanilla couple to spice things up a bit. I wish I’d had this book five years ago!
Buy your own copy direct from Cleis Press
I was sent ‘Never Say Never’ by the lovely folks at Cleis Press free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review
When she's not writing she can be found frequenting cocktail bars with her wonderful other half, cuddling with her pet parrots or on stage performing burlesque.